Full of festive spirit but dreading having to plan the office party this year? Here are some handy hints and tips from the Effective Event Solutions team on how to plan a corporate Christmas party.
When it comes to planning a company Christmas party there is no such thing as too early: you may not want to be thinking about tinsel and mulled wine in April, but this could be a great time to book a bargain and ensure the best date for your event.
Pick a date: Midweek nights will be cheaper (as will late November and even January if you can get away with a post-xmas do), but can you afford the inevitably unproductive, hungover day after?
It can also be a good idea to send a few date options around the office and gather feedback on everybody’s preference. You can’t please them all, but it will give you an idea of attendance numbers which can influence your venue choice.
Save the date: even if you don’t have details such as the venue, theme etc. pinned down, it is good to get a date in people’s diaries as early as possible.
Budget: Whether extravagant or scrimping you need to have a budget in place before you look at anything else; there is nothing worse than finding the perfect venue and then getting a big fat NO from your company’s finance team.
Once you have an idea of budget think about what is most important to your guests i.e. if they’re party animals and love a few drinks then allocate a larger part of your budget to the bar – picking a cheaper venue but wowing them with cool cocktails will be a winner!
Try and leave a some budget aside for ‘unexpected costs’ too, last minute changes can be tricky if you’ve already splurged the whole lot!
Type of party: these days a company Christmas party can take many forms, bear in mind this is a ‘thank you’ to your colleagues so think about what they would want.
- Location – close to the office? Close to good transport links?
- Numbers – can they bring a plus one?
- Time – a daytime event or evening party? Or even both if you combine the party with a company meeting as you have everyone in one place.
- Party style – Bespoke party or package deal? A bespoke party means a lot more work, finding a venue (or using a space within your own office) and booking all the other party elements (e.g. catering, décor, entertainment) but it does allow you to create something designed exactly for your company.
- A package bought from a venue feels a lot easier as they provide all the elements, however it is likely they will run a theme for the entire Christmas period (e.g. Hollywood glam, winter wonderland or James Bond) so you don’t have any choice on theme.
- A package bought from an event agency (like us at Effective Event Solutions!) is the best of both worlds, the agency bring together all the bespoke elements for you and package it up into one invoice.
- Private or shared? Many package venues offer both exclusive nights and shared nights – the shared nights work well if you have a smaller group as you still get the same great prices as a bigger group, you just have to share the night with other small companies.
Venues: Use internet searches to narrow down ideas by size, style or location and go from there, if you have time then do site visits and see the event spaces. Many venues offer Christmas open days where you can see the rooms as they will look during the festive period.
Entertainment: Utilise your venue contact’s on-site knowledge to find out what has worked well, or not so well, there in the past. If you have the budget for a big showbiz act then try to speak direct to their agent to ensure you’re getting the best price.
Catering: Food is the big feature of most Christmas parties and there are many different ways to do it. Whether it’s a traditional turkey sit down feast or casual bowl food, speak to your caterers about different options and make sure there is plenty of it!
When sending out company-wide save the dates or invites it is also a good time to request any special dietary requirements, things like Kosher or Halal meals are often an extra expense so it’s good to work out numbers early.
Drinks: Sparkling wine is the classic welcome drink but how about a nice warm winter Pimms or mulled wine to welcome guests in from the cold? Have you got the budget for pre-paid drinks or will you have a cash bar? If you have a crowd of big drinkers but minimal budget it could be sensible to offer just house wine and beer as complimentary, then have spirits on a cash bar.
Accommodation: if the venue isn’t near your office or the majority of your colleague live further afield, it could be a good idea to pre-book some accommodation. Many hotels will let you reserve a block of rooms and allow guests to pay personally, so don’t worry if you don’t have enough in the budget for this!
Speeches: Having the whole company or team in one room is a great chance to thank everyone for their hard work and present awards for outstanding achievements, think about the scale of your venue – do you need a PA system or relay screens to ensure everyone can hear and see?
Photographer: You’ve arranged an incredible night to remember, so it’d be a shame not to have a record of all the fun. Photo-booths are a great idea, from simple machines to full Christmas scene sets with professional photographers, there is an option for every budget. You can link the booth to a big screen and live stream all those cheesy grins to the rest of the crowd too!
Cloakroom: If the venue doesn’t provide one as standard then you need to make sure you have sufficient space and security to bring one in – make sure there are enough staff for peak times (i.e. arrival and departure) to avoid long queues! Also bear in mind where you’re guests are travelling from, might they have suitcases? If so hire stackable tables or shelves to maximise space for bags and cases.
Security: Even if the event is held in your office it is a good idea to have a security guard, they will ensure no uninvited guests sneak in but are also on hand for any drunken disagreements and can ensure guests leave safely (and quietly if it is a residential area).
With pressure coming from both the time constraints to book the best date at a great venue along with trying to please everyone from accounts to marketing can seem like an impossible task, if that’s the case you can always ask us to do it for you!
For competitive rates and exciting Christmas party ideas contact us on Sales@EffectiveEventSolutions.com for a FREE proposal.